Question & Answer
Fr. Bernard Nguyễn Trọng thưởng, CMC Phụ Trách

12. Do gay people have a choice?

Dear Fr. Bernard,

First of all, I would like to say that I enjoy your "Teens Puzzled" section very much (I know this is such a cliche introduction but it's true). That being said, I would like to share with you what puzzles me. If you are familiar with current events, I am sure you have heard of the new law that allows for people of the same sex to continue their relationship without government prosecution. In the Dallas Morning News, the headline read: "New Day For Gay Americans." Of course, being very immature I busted out laughing. But then I seriously began to think. I know the Church condemns such acts and I have heard the argument that if everyone was "gay" civilization would end. But what intrigues me is, do these people have a choice? Of course they can choose not to begin such a relationship but they can't choose what they are attracted too. Let's say, I love the color red. I was born liking the color red. I didn't choose too, I guess God made me that way. If the Church condemned the fondness towards the color red, then I would be a sinner (not to say that I wouldn't be anyway, we all are.) Even if I try to comply with the doctrines of the Church, I cannot change what I prefer. So it is with "gay" people. If they had a choice, no one would chose to be "gay" so they will go through life being frowned upon by the Church, beaten by the "gay bashers", and feared by the "homo-phobes". To sum it up, to sin we must have free will. Having an attraction towards something, (in this case, having an attraction towards the same sex) is natural and we cannot control it. So why does the church condemn homosexuals??? I'm not really confused, just curious. God bless you. Yours Truly, (Khoa Hoang)

Dear Khoa Hoang,
Thank you for your kind comment. It is good to know that Teens Puzzled is enjoyable. Yes, I watched the news on TV and it was on the headlines. Your question is a good and legitimate one. It shows that you pay attention to what is going on in today's society and reflect on it. Being homosexual is not a sin but acting out homosexuality is. Anything is a sin because of its destructive nature, not because of the Church's arbitrary standard. God created an order in nature. Gravity is the natural law in that order. No one can go against that. So when you decide to jump out the window from the 50th floor to defy the law of gravity, you will destroy yourself. God also created a moral order. In that order everyone has to do good and avoid evil to live a happy life. Good acts turn you into a good person and bring you eternal happiness. Evil acts turn you into an evil person and bring you eternal misery. In the moral order, sexuality is a gift from God. It is an expression of marital love which is a bond between a man and a woman. Sexuality has its natural purpose is to giving birth to children. That is the moral order that God makes very obvious in our biological structure. Marital love by its nature is life giving. A union between 2 men or 2 women cannot be a marital love because it is not life-giving. It is purely selfish instead of self-giving. Sex for homosexual couple is purely for selfish pleasure. This is abusing God's gift. It destroys the person's ability to love, therefore destroys the person because a person was born from love and to love. Does a homosexual have a choice? Yes, he/she does. The individual may not have a choice over the sexual orientation, but she/he has a choice not to act that out. Homosexuality is still a mystery to us. It is a disorder that some people were born with just like other biological disorders or other psychological disorders. Some people have different degrees of homosexuality. Those with lighter degrees could be cured. Homosexual persons have to learn to live with that disorder in a healthy way. Acting out homosexuality is unhealthy and self-destructive. That is why it is a sin. I hope this answers your question. Remember to pray for those people we were concerned with. God bless. 

13. I feel that Marian Days have lost all meaning to me! 
Is it only me to feel this?  Am I just too old fashioned?

Dear Fr. Bernard,

I've recently attended Marian Days this past August in 2003. I am sorry to say that I feel that it has lost all meaning to me. No longer is it only a place for prayers and worship, but now it is a "Mardi Gras" for tens of thousands of Vietnamese-American teenagers and young adults that come. I know that I am far from perfect, but I feel that Marian Days is not a place for revealing clothing and trying to hook up with the opposite sex. There are some, but few that actually come for the religious activities. I can remember attending Marian Days twelve years ago when I was six. Back then it was about going to mass, praying to the Virgin Mary, and becoming closer to my friends, family, and most important, to God. This year, I could not take it anymore, all the glamour was too much for me. Staying in the car became one of my hobbies during the time there, but going home seemed like the best possible choice. My family was quite disappointed with me. Having to leave early wasn't in their plans, however it was something I needed to do. Is it only me who find this change morally troubling, or are there others who think the same? Father Bernard, should I openly accept changes without questioning them, or am I just too old fashioned? (Sam)

Dear Sam,
Marian Days in recent years have been very complicated as the crowd got really large. There were a great number of people coming with many different purposes. Even an adult of good faith went to Marian Days with many intentions: devotion to Mary, praying, listening to homilies, talks, meeting distant relative and friends... There is nothing wrong with that. There were non-Catholics who simply came for fun, enjoying the crowd... Being exposed to religious environment, may be some day they would be converted. There were also other negative elements as you observed. But in focusing on the negative elements you overlooked all the good signs: masses, confessions, devotion to the Eucharist, to Mary, talks, procession were packed with thousands of people. In the old days, 12 years ago, Marian Days had a more religious atmosphere, but it was beneficial to only a few people. The present Marian Days may be more noisy but it brings more people to Jesus and Mary. So we need to have a balanced view of things. Focusing too much on the negative turn you into a pessimistic person who easily gives up in facing difficulty. To be successful in life we must try to make the best out of the worst situation. On the other hand, you also raised an important problem. It is a challenge for the CMC priests, brothers and probably for all who come, to create a more religious atmostphere for the Marian Days. God bless.

14. I have been confused by reading
Genesis 19 and Leviticus 18 and 20.
Please help me!

Hi Father Bernard,

First of all, I want to say I enjoy reading Marian Teens and I think you've done a terrific job at answering questions that teenagers everywhere have. I am not a teenager anymore, but I would like to participate in the Marian Teens section because I need to know the answers to the following questions. 

I am not sure if you attended Marian Days and listened to Father Bui Quang Tuan during the Conference for Youth on Saturday, but I thought it was very educational.  One of the questions that someone posed was about homosexuality, why it is wrong, and where in the Holy Bible does it forbid these acts.  I remembered Cha Tuan cited Genesis Chapter 19, and Leviticus Chapter 18 and 20 as proofs that God does prohibit these "abominable deeds."  I went home after Marian Days and looked up Genesis Chapter 19, and Leviticus Chapter 18 & 20 to learn more about this. After reading the recommended chapters, I became confused. 

Genesis Chapter 19 told a story of a city called Sodom and of the Lot's family.  Perhaps many people are familiar with this story. God rained down sulphurous fire upon the city because the men in this city desired "intimacies" with the two angels (male) God sent, in other word, they were homosexual.  The Lot's family was saved because they were against homosexuality.  They were instructed to leave the city of Sodom without looking back, but Lot's wife disobeyed and she was turned into a pillar of salt.  Lot and his two daughters ended up living in a cave, and the two daughters became pregnant by their father.  This is the source of my confusion.  How is it that in Leviticus God forbids a man to sleep with his daughter, but in Genesis allowed it?  To me, this is a contradiction, but I am not an expert, can you please explain to me.

The next few questions I have concern the book of Leviticus.  Reading Chapter 18 and 20 makes me wonder if we still follow everything that was written in the Bible.  Let me give you an example from Leviticus Chapter 20:18, "If a man lies in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period, both of them shall be cut off from their people, because they have laid bare the flowing fountain of her blood."  Not only Leviticus tells practicing Catholics what not to do, it also explained what one must do to clean himself/herself if committed these sins.  I wasn't sure if the Catholic Church enforces these rules on us because it seems that some of the rituals and ceremonies that the book said we must do to clean ourselves are not in affect anymore.  If we don't follow all these rituals that were written in the Holy Bible to clean ourselves then aren't we not following God's laws?  If we can make the decision to stop performing these rituals written in Leviticus, then why can't we make decision to allow homosexuality?

Thanks Father Bernard, I'm confident you can provide answers to the many questions I have. God Bless, (UBC)

Dear UBC,
Thank you for your great support. You are welcomed even though you are "ex-teen". The rules in Leviticus were a development long after the events contained in the book of Genesis. In the ancient time of the Bible such as the time of Lot, continuing the blood line of a man was very important, so important that Lot's daughters decided to take their mother's place in bearing children for their father. Moral rules developed through time were just like our understanding of God. As we understand God more we have to live more in according with his revelation of the truth. In fact Lot would not have agreed to sleep with his daughters, so they made him drunk. So the story was told as a rather bizarre way to preserve a man's blood line.

There were different degrees to the laws in the Bible. Some were directly from God like the Ten Commandments; some were specified by human authority. The rules in Leviticus that you mentioned were strictly observed by the followers of Judaism but they were specified by human authority. We don't follow Judaism so we don't observe those rules which seem to be more of human origin than divine.

Homosexual acts are evil in themselves because they destroy the person's ability to love in a life giving way, not just because they were forbidden in the book of Leviticus. Please refer to the answer I gave above about homosexuality and you will understand the problem better. Since they are evil in themselves it's not up to us or any body to allow them. I would like to commend you for having such a great interest in the Bible. Keep up the good work. God bless.


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